And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
A disciple is one who learns and follows the teachings of another. Appreciating and applying this definition is essential in order to properly assess whether one is or is not a disciple of Jesus Christ.
One may learn the teachings of another person without being a disciple. For example, one may learn the teachings of Karl Marx, yet not be his disciples. Learning plus following his social and economic philosophies would make one a disciple of Marx. Likewise, one may learn the teachings of Jesus yet not be His disciple. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:31-32). It is when one trains himself and follows the teachings of the Master that he is truly a disciple of the Master (Lk. 6:40).
The great commission to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (“teach all nations”, KJV), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...” does not suggest one who is learning – yet has not obeyed the gospel of Christ – is a “disciple” (Matt. 28:19-20). Some may wish to soften the force of truth by telling those who believe the teachings of Christ but have not yet obeyed Christ’s plan of salvation that they are “disciples” and on the right path toward Christ. No, such a “softening” of the gospel message is a perversion that gives sinners false hope while also endangering those who teach such error (Lk. 6:46; Gal. 1:6-10)!
One who knows the truth but has not obeyed the truth is not a disciple of Christ; he is still lost in sin. Saul knew the truth but until he obeyed the truth and was baptized his sins were not washed away (Acts 22:16). A disciple of Christ is a Christian precisely because he believes and obeys (learns and follows) the teaching of Christ (Mk. 16:15-16). There are no unrepentant, unbaptized disciples of Christ.
Teach the lost person his true spiritual condition and tell him how to be saved. Teach him the gospel that saves his soul from death. Teach him so he can believe it and obey it and be saved in order to truly be a disciple of Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 47). Disciples “continue steadfastly in the apostles teaching” (Acts 2:42). A disciple is not a Christian in prospect; a disciple is a Christian (Acts 11:26).
Faith Without Works is Dead
Joe R. Price
The message of evangelicalism and most Protestant denominations is that faith plus any kind of work denies God’s grace and God’s power to save sinners. Consequently, they say sinners are saved by faith only (commonly expressed as salvation “by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone”).
We are indeed saved “by grace...through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is the gift of God and not of ourselves (Eph. 2:9). We cannot earn salvation. God saves us, not by “works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5). To be counted righteous by “works” one would have to live a life without sin (study Rom. 4:1-4). Once a person sins he can never “work” (earn) his salvation; that possibility no longer exists because he is a sinner! Now, he needs grace. We all do, since we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23).
God’s part in our salvation is His grace; without it we would be forever lost. Man’s part in being saved is faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The issue is not whether we are saved by faith. The issue is what kind of faith saves? The wrong kind of faith will not save us (cf. Jas. 2:19). Are we saved by a faith that stands alone? No, because “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17, 26). Here, “works” means obedient faith. Are we saved by a faith that works (obeys) the will of God? Yes (Matt. 7:21; Heb. 5:8-9). The Scriptures teach we are not saved by “faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Such a doctrine is not “wholesome” and “very full of comfort” (The Methodist Book of Discipline, 57).
Those who advocate salvation by faith only do so, at least in part, because they fail to define “works” as it is used in its Biblical context. The Protestant Reformation seared into the minds of its adherents that “works” are always a denial of the grace of God. Creeds and confessions of faith were adopted that solidified and codified this doctrine. “Works” are thus viewed as always hostile to God and against salvation by faith. Our adversary the devil has done his work well (pun intended). Minds have been poisoned against “works” as if it can only and always mean an attempt to “earn” salvation. Thus defined, works are naturally rejected as having a place in man’s salvation. We agree there are no works that earn salvation. We disagree that the word “works” is always objectionable when used in the Scriptures concerning salvation.
The truth is that faith comes to life through the activity (the “work”) of obedience. Look at what has power in Christ: “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Since working faith has power, we must at least admit there is a type of “work” that God approves and accepts; the work of faith. Otherwise, we do not believe Galatians 5:6.
A working faith does not earn the right to be saved. But, it does show trust in God’s word and His power to save. James used Abraham to teach us what kind of faith pleases God.
Was not Abraham our faith justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (Jas. 2:21-24).
The kind of faith that is accounted for righteousness is obedient to the commands of God. That is the kind of faith Abraham had. That is the kind of faith that is accounted for righteousness. That is the kind of faith we must have. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys.
A question that begs to be asked is, “Do you want to know what kind of faith saves? Do you want to know that the faith that saves is the faith that obeys God? Do you want to lift the fog of Protestant theology that distorted the nature of saving faith as it battled the perversions of Roman Catholicism? The Roman Catholic Church was (is) wrong to propose men may earn their way into God’s presence. The Protestants were (are) just as wrong to propose salvation by faith only.
The inspired word of God asks, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jas. 2:20) If you want to know this simple truth, you can. Faith without works (of faith, obedience) is dead. James also said faith that does not have works is not profitable (Jas. 2:14); it cannot be seen (Jas. 2:18); it is the faith of demons (Jas. 2:19); and it is barren (Jas. 2:20). Why would anyone want that kind of faith? Yet, when people are told to only believe and the Lord will save you that is exactly the kind of faith being offered. Do you want to know that the faith of demons will not save you?
The kind of faith you need in order to be saved is faith like Abraham had; faith that trusts God and obeys His word. Jesus said “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). Do you have the faith to believe and obey Jesus? Do you have the faith that will be counted to you for righteousness? If so, believe and obey the word of Jesus.
Obeying Jesus does not earn your right to be saved. Obedience is the humble submission of an unprofitable servant who is doing his duty (Lk. 17:10). Jesus saves all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9). Do you believe His word enough to obey and be saved? Do you have faith that saves your soul (Heb. 10:39)?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Do You Want to Know?
Scripture Reading:Romans 10:14-21
1. A willful
refusal to understand and obey the truth of God is foolishness, Eph. 5:17;
I. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE GOSPEL MEANS? Acts 17:18-20
A. You Can
Know What the Gospel Means, Acts 8:30-39; 10:33, 47-48; 17:11-12.
II. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE HEADSHIP GOD HAS ESTABLISHED? 1 Cor. 11:3
Apostle Expected Christians to Know about Headship, 1 Tim. 2:12.
III. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD? Jas. 2:20
A. Saying You Believe but not Obeying What You Say You Believe is a Lie! Jas. 1:22, 26; 2:15-17; Heb. 10:35-39.
1. Do you
want to know the truth of God that will save you now and forever?
Mothers without Marriage
An alarming statistic was announced this week: “more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage” (“For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage”, Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, NYTimes.com). The authors observe: “It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal.” They note “researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.” Conversely, children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes” (Ibid). The article is worth reading. Here are some contributing attitudes behind this terrible trend.
1) Women believe they do not need men to have a family. “Women used to rely on men, but we don’t need to anymore,” said Teresa Fragoso, 25, a single mother in Lorain. ‘We support ourselves. We support our kids’” (Ibid). God arranged the home with both a father and a mother. Each brings unique roles and responsibilities to the family unit; the family is incomplete without both. God’s word says “the head of woman is man” (1 Cor. 11:3). The feminist movement has convinced many women that men are optional; America is now reaping the whirlwind.
2) The deconstruction of marriage. “I’d like to do it (get married, jrp), but I just don’t see it happening right now,” Amber Strader said. “Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway” (Ibid). Marriage is a covenant of God between a man and a woman. It is far more than a “piece of paper” (Gen. 2:23-24; Matt. 19:4-6). Marriage can succeed because God created it for success! (Eph. 5:22-33; Heb. 13:4)
3) Children are viewed as byproducts, not blessings. “Like other women interviewed here, she described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships” (Ibid). Read Psalm 127:3-5.
4) The shame of immorality is gone. Our society no longer blushes at the sin of fornication (Jer. 8:12). Sin destroys souls – and societies! (Prov. 14:34)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/30/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA